Business group files 2 PERS reform ballot initiatives

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Members of the business community have filed two prospective ballot measures that would aim to rein in the Oregon’s public pension system’s growing deficit and runaway costs.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the first potential ballot measure would give new hires the option of a 401(k)-style retirement plan financed by matching contributions of 6 percent of salary by employers and employees. New hires could choose that new plan or the pension system – but not both, as employees get today.

The second initiative would require the Legislature to study a new 401(k) style retirement plan for new hires and submit recommendations to implement it by 2022. Meanwhile it would require existing and new employees to pay one-third the cost of their pension benefits moving forward, which would range between 2.8% and 6% of pay.

For now, the initiatives launched Thursday serve mostly as negotiating leverage in a legislative session where Democrats want to pass new corporate taxes to fund schools, but have yet to detail how they will ensure that money makes it into the classroom, and not pay for the rapidly escalating pension costs that are hitting public employers across the state.